Monday, July 6, 2009

Day One Hundred-sixteen, 090624 - BRP#1 Cherokee, NC

Day One Hundred Sixteen, Date Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Time in Saddle: 6:18
Distance for the Day: 41.43 miles From Franklin, NC To Blue Ridge Pkwy SC#1
Accumulated Trip Distance: 5540.78 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 2161’/3735’, Highest: 3735’ Accumulated: 3421’
Speeds: Avg: 6.5 mph, Max: 41.2 mph
Weather: 70°
Expenditures: $13
Got up at 5:30am and was ready to roll in the pre-dawn light at 6am. I went across the highway to the gas station and got breakfast ($3). I then battled my way up a thousand foot high hill for the next 1.5 hrs to go 4 miles, and took the next 5 mins to come sailiong back down the other side (whee!). As I continued up Hwy 23 toward the Blue Ridge Parkway, along the way, a woman parked at the side of the road waved me over so I stopped, and she asked me if I’d be willing to to get interviewed by the local newspaper in Sylva, just up the road – sure! At 9:00am I hit Dillard, and took side trip a few miles west for that interview for the Sylva Herald by reporter (Stephanie). She had me pose in front of the fountain at the Jackson County Courthouse, and asked me a bunch of questions (where are you from; where are you going; the usual) (here’s the article: ). Afterwards, at 9:57am I went back to Dillard to use the free wi-fi at the internet cafĂ©, there ($6), from 10am to 2pm. Caught up on email and did some blogging. It was a bright sunny day, but cooler as it’s a higher altitude – less humid, and about in the mid to upper-80s.At 2:44pm I took this route that StreetAtlas recommended for bikes, and it picked roads that cut off corners of the highway to create a shorter, straighter route. BUT, those more direct streets were *extremely* hilly, and it was very hot, and I was *raining* sweat, so I decided to stick with the curves of Hwy 74, rather than use those “shortcuts” recommended by the altitude-ignorant computer mapping program. I made it to Cherokee, and bit the bullet to eat at McDonalds ($6) (not my favorite place to eat) (I thought it was the only restaurant in town – WRONG). I also got liquids ($6) and saw a bunch of other restaurants (Wendy’s, Subway, Burger King – demitol). At 4:40pm, I entered the southern end of the BRP (Blue Ridge Parkway). The southern end of the BRP is the toughest – 35 miles worth of tough grades going from 2000’ to 6000’ (ulp!) Well, I went up and up and up, continuously for the next hour and at 5:57pm I thought I’d call it quits for the day (actually, my knees made the final decision). I found a suitable stealth camp site at the “outlook” (there are bunches of these outlooks all along the entire BRP) View Thomas Divide (N35 31.253’ W83 14.819’). I just stopped, ate some snacks and cooled and dried off reading my book, when I met up with Clint F, who was photographing the mysterious and unexplained lights that sometimes occur at these three peaks off in the distance (10 or 15 miles?). I saw them! We watched these mysterious lights that sort of looked like car headlights seen through trees, but they a) would occur at different altitudes or b) would flash in non-sequential directions (left, then right, then left, then up, then down, etc.), or c) sometimes one bright light would sit there for 5 minutes, and it might fade off, or turn a deep blood red. It was very mysterious and unexplained. Clint said they were similar to the Brown Mtn Lights (seen from another location along the BRP – you can Google the subject for more info on them). Clint said when he’d ask the local Indians about them, they would just blow him off, evade the question, or turn silent. There’s a lot of different explanations and folklore about the “Triple Peak Lights” (my name for them), but nobody seems to have any credible explanation for them. Very strange! Clint and I stayed up until about 11:30pm watching the lights before Clint finished taking pictures and took off for home. While we were chatting, I gave him some ideas on how to further investigate the lights (find the location of the peaks using Google Earth to see if there are any roads up there; bring a telescope or binoculars to help view them; see if their location could be determined through triangulation using walkie talkies, compasses and a helper, borrow a better camera and/or telephoto lens). I should have also mentioned getting some video of them. It was totally dark, by the time everyone left, so I used my headlamp to set up my hammock and was in bed about midnight. A very interesting evening!


Jim said...

Hi Don,

It's actually Dillsboro that's next to Sylva ... Dillard is a little town in north JawJa you passed by just before you got to Franklin. I met you on the BRP near the highest point ... on Thursday, June 25th. I've enjoyed reading your blog and keeping up with your trip. So glad you're blogging ... it allows the rest of us to live your adventure vicariously. Just wonderin' ... other than seeing the country ... a purpose in and of itself ... do you have some greater internal cause? Just curious. Keep on keepin' on ... Jim

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